A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, and I’ve given my honest opinion.
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A Harvest of ThornsA Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A large American corporation. A garment factory fire overseas. Labor rights. Globalization. I wanted to read this novel and get something meaningful and challenging out of it.

Instead, I rather felt like I’d been duped. Partly my fault, since I’ve run into this with a HarperCollins Christian Publishing book in the past, and I’d told myself I’d be more cautious about selecting books from them. (I believe it was a Zondervan book before, while this one is a Thomas Nelson.)

Call me old-fashioned, but when I reach for novels from a Christian publisher, I’m not looking for books that contain profanity. I’m just not. Sure, when I knowingly choose to read a secular book, I’ll deal with a certain amount of foul language or other content I prefer to avoid, if I find the story and message especially compelling and relevant–that’s my choice. But I personally don’t see the point of continuing to call yourself a Christian publisher if not all of the novels you’re publishing now are Christian Fiction.

Yes, yes, I know–different folks’ definitions and standards of Christian Fiction are different. The publishers have their business reasons and all. That’s fine. But in keeping with my standards as a longtime ChristFic reader, I’ll now be choosing Thomas Nelson and Zondervan books based on what I know or have researched about the authors, not based on the publishers’ names anymore–since, unfortunately, I can no longer trust what I’m getting from said publishers.

This is rare for me when I originally planned to review a book, but I got less than a quarter of the way through this one before I decided not to continue.

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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Five Gold Stars

long-way-goneLong Way Gone by Charles Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

So many thoughts I’m having.

It’s quite heavy and intricately woven, this contemporary prodigal son story: Long Way Gone by author Charles Martin.

I was in for a surprise when I received this book. While I’d seen the wooded path and the man in the distance on the book cover, I didn’t notice the most telling feature of the cover until I held the book in my hands: the path is a guitar.

This is certainly a tale where music is a living, breathing creation, and musical instruments are virtually people. The author gives illustrations of gifting that goes beyond talent, beyond what’s tangible, and fierce love (of different kinds) that does the same–that goes beyond.

I did have some minor issues with the plot development. I didn’t fully buy into how drastic the protagonist’s turn on his father is, perhaps because the severe change happens in a rather short amount of time, reading wise. And the story may have what I call “too many endings,” when it seems a climax or conclusion stretches a bit too long or keeps unfolding so much that the zenith or plateau it reaches begins to lose its effect.

But that’s of little matter here, considering all the areas of the soul the novel explores, and the powerful depiction of a love that is, again, so fierce that I had to set the book aside for a while and just breathe. I couldn’t even cry.

They may be what Wordsworth would call “Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.” But, knowing myself, and being sure that my thoughts from this novel will stick with me, I may very well cry later.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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Four Silver Stars

the-long-journey-to-jake-palmerThe Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A brutal attack and a devastating divorce have left Jake struggling with his identity. When he hears the legend of a hidden place at Willow Lake where his life can be restored (or destroyed?), he can’t resist finding out if the legend is true in The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by author James L. Rubart.

Having read The Five Times I Met Myself by this author, I was expecting a story that would include an element of fantasy, and that’s what I got. (I wasn’t expecting a nod to Black Fedora, but I got that too, and it was fun!) Jake’s journey goes so far as to incorporate pieces of The Silver Chair from The Chronicles of Narnia, my favorite fantasy series. While this novel spends a good amount of time on Jake’s interaction with his friends on their lakeside vacation, I found myself wanting to get back to the legend of the lakeside corridor.

However, while I would’ve liked to feel that I was mainly learning along with Jake, it felt as if I spent most of the book waiting for him to catch up, to finally get past what seemed like the obvious surface of things. On the whole, I was a little surprised that the story didn’t surprise me much.

Still, the novel has an encouraging message of healing, along with its adventure into a realm where the possible and the impossible meet.

The Touch by Randall Wallace

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review, through a rewards program from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation.
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Five Gold Stars

The TouchThe Touch by Randall Wallace

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Lara studied him, and she knew something out of the ordinary had happened there, though she could not have said what, and she could not have known that something in this was even greater than what Jones had once seen at the Sistine Chapel, for this was alive, this was the Hand of God to Andrew Jones.

I had some idea–but then again, little idea at all–what I was in for when I picked up The Touch by author Randall Wallace, the story of a young, gifted surgeon who refuses to operate anymore after a personal, fatal tragedy.

I didn’t know until right before I started reading that this novella is by the screenwriter of the 1995 film Braveheart, but I didn’t go on reading with Braveheart expectations or qualifiers in my brain. I just took the story as it came, and although this may not be the place to make any cases on the matter, I would encourage all readers who normally steer clear of novellas because of their “too short” or “no depth” stigma not to prejudge and pass up this book on that basis. It’s too nuanced, too raw, too beautiful, too powerful of a story to overlook.

Sometimes, less is indeed more, and the author does more here than just relay a little medical tale. Admittedly, in the beginning, some of the wording and punctuation choices had me thinking the read might turn out to be on the pedestrian and even corny side, but I was proven wrong. Here, medicine and surgery become a song; they’re beauty and art, faith and genius, trial and triumph. The whole story is all of these things, both within and outside of the operating room.

It’s an excellently woven testament to life and love, and though I couldn’t absorb it all in one read-through, what I have absorbed this time is enough to mark this book as one of my all-time favorites.